How to Use Hydraulic Car Jacks

by Contributor

Unlike traditional screw jacks that are manipulated with long cranks, hydraulic car jacks use high-pressure liquid displacement to lift cars. If employed properly, hydraulic car jacks are easy to use for most people and provide more power than ordinary, mechanical screw jacks.

Locate the jacking point, which is usually found about one foot behind or in front of the wheel on which you are working. Check your owner's manual if you have trouble locating it.

Stack the plywood and place the stack on the ground where you plan to use the hydraulic jack.

Set the jack on a stable point on the plywood stack.

Loosen the wheel you plan to work on before you jack up the car. Otherwise, the force you will exert to loosen the wheel may cause the jack to tip over.

Release the locking mechanism located on the hydraulic jack handle. This mechanism allows you to lock the handle safely when it's not in use.

Jack up the car by operating the lever on the hydraulic jack. Move the lever or jack handle up and down to raise the car about 1 1/2 inches off the ground.

Place the jack stand under the axle-stand point underneath the car but never under the axle itself. Check the owner's manual if you are not sure where the axle-stand points are located.

Remove the jack stand when you are finished working on the car.

Lower the car until the jack is no longer supporting its weight.

Tips

  • check In addition to the hydraulic jack and the plywood, try placing a hockey puck between the jack and the car to add more height. This will give you an additional 1 1/2 inches.
  • check Before jacking, automatic-shift cars should be put into park, and standard shift cars should be in first gear or reverse.
  • check The basic steps to using hydraulic jacks usually refer to changing or rotating tires. More complex repairs may require placing the jack elsewhere under the car or using more sophisticated lifting equipment.

Warnings

  • close Avoid placing the hydraulic jack on a soft surface, such as asphalt, so it doesn't sink into the surface. Placing the jack on plywood helps prevent the sinking.
  • close Never work under a car that is supported by a jack alone. Always use a jack stand.

Items you will need

About the Author

This article was written by the It Still Runs team, copy edited and fact checked through a multi-point auditing system, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information. To submit your questions or ideas, or to simply learn more about It Still Runs, contact us.